The Culling Begins

Well, it’s 2016, and it’s about time I thinned the camera and lens collections a bit. The accumulation had gotten to the point that I was not using cameras that I really like. It’s one thing to keep something on the shelf because you feel compelled to hang onto it for sentimental value (or lack of monetary value). But when you’ve got equipment that works well and produces good results just collecting dust, it’s time to move it on to someone else.

So I’ve sold off some cameras, and I should probably sell off a few more. It’s seems appropriate to offer a proper send-off to those that have already departed Filmosaur HQ.

Olympus XA4 Macro

It was a brief dalliance, and not an unpleasant one, but from the beginning I knew it was not destined to last. Sure, the XA4 was a great travelling companion, fitting easily into a pocket and always ready to pop out for a bit of fun. The lens was quite nice, the 28mm focal length quite useful, and the results showed that it was indeed a very capable little camera. The macro function worked and really added meaningful flexibility. Even the plastic body and controls were far less offensive than I initially expected. On the face of it, things looked good for the long haul.

But there was a fatal flaw in our relationship: the XA4 is an auto-exposure-only camera, and I am a devout follower of the Cult of Manual Controls. No matter how well we got along, our faiths would never allow us to remain together forever. So we had our fun, and then we said goodbye. No harsh words, no tears, no bad memories, just a lingering fondness and a faint hint of sadness at what might have been.


Kodak Retina I


The Retina suffered only by comparison, not on its own merits. It was in nice shape, well-built and solid, with a good Schneider Xenar lens. It was everything a small folding camera should be, and it would have stayed around but for one problem: the Voigtländer Vito. The Vito does everything the Retina did, but beats it in two important categories: it weighs considerably less, and I much prefer the rendering of the Skopar lens to the Retina’s Xenar.

Old folders are fiddly cameras, and since they require a certain frame of mind to use effectively, they don’t get used a lot, and when I did I seemed to grab the Voigtländer far more than the Kodak. Truth is I don’t really need either of them, but I felt that I should keep one 35mm folder as a representative of the type. When I settled on that, the choice was not terribly hard. So long, Retina, it was nice knowing you.


Jupiter-12 35/2.8


It was a bit hard to say goodbye to the Jupiter-12. It’s really a very good lens, with a unique signature due to its optical design. Sure, the ergonomics are a bit old-fashioned, but that never stopped me. I’d been debating whether I needed it for a while, having two other LTM 35s – the Canon 35/2.8 and my hacked Nikon L35AF lens – already, but I guess what really tipped the balance was the recent acquisition of the W.Acall 35/3.5. Once I saw the photos from that lens, I seriously questioned whether I really needed any other 35. I’m keeping the Canon and the Nikon hack for now; the Nikon is tiny, perfect for street work with a screwmount Leica body, and the Canon…well, I’m not sure that the Canon offers a lot to distinguish itself by comparison, but I’m still keeping it for the moment. But something had to go, and it was the Jupiter. Farewell, comrade.


Not exactly sure what’s next on the chopping block, but two cameras that have seen scant use in the last year are my FED-2 and Olympus 35SP. The FED was my entry back into film and into rangefinders, and the images from the 35SP justify its reputation. It will be hard to see either of them go, but if they aren’t being used they’re just decoration, and I don’t need ornaments cluttering up my shelves. We’ll see if I can talk myself into selling them. Stay tuned.


Oh, and in case anyone was still wondering…

…the abstract photo I posted on 5 June was taken in the rail tunnels leading out of Grand Central Terminal. I held the camera up the to window of the moving train and captured (in a rather long exposure) the guide lights and reflections as we rolled along through the tunnel. Just wanted to provide some closure.

Semi-Random Photo for 11 June 2015

Last one in the series. Despite the auto-exposure-only nature of the XA4, I find myself enjoying it. It’s shown itself to be pretty capable, and as long as you work within its limitations, it can produce very good photos in most conditions. But it’s not an involving camera to use in the way that a manual one is, and in a perverse way, I resent that the convenience of the little Olympus seems to encourage outbreaks of laziness, and sometimes I chide myself for not using something a bit more technically demanding. Such is the plight of the conflicted photographer with too many gear options….

Olympus XA4 Macro, Ilford HP5+ in Caffenol C-H(RS)
Olympus XA4 Macro, Ilford HP5+ in Caffenol C-H(RS)